Rhode Island Sea Grant sends three Knauss Fellows to Washington

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NARRAGANSETT — January 18, 2007– Rhode Island Sea Grant is sending three graduate students to Washington, D.C., for one-year, $41,500, National Sea Grant College Program Dean John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowships. Jingjie Chu, Elizabeth Etrie, and Yong Jiang are among 44 Fellows who will begin working in the federal government on marine and coastal issues starting February 1, 2007.

Chu, a University of Rhode Island (URI) Ph.D. candidate in environmental and natural resource economics, will be working for NOAA Fisheries’ Aquaculture Program Office. At URI, Chu has served as a research assistant on projects examining economic impacts of aquaculture products.

“Aquaculture is a new industry but has a very good future,” she says, adding that she is excited to be part of the decision-making process in establishing regulations for offshore marine aquaculture in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone. Chu, a native of Inner Mongolia, China, says that China has the largest aquaculture industry in the world, and could benefit from America’s experiences and vice versa. “I hope I can be involved in this kind of coordination,” Chu says of her post-fellowship plans.

Etrie, a student in the joint-degree program at Roger Williams University (RWU) and URI, received a juris doctor degree from RWU in 2006 and is a master’s degree in marine affairs candidate at URI. She will be working in the State Department’s Office of Marine Conservation.

Etrie served as a sternwoman on a lobster boat for three years before completing her undergraduate degree and saw firsthand some of the regulations imposed on the lobster industry.

“These regulations provided me the opportunity to see the commercial fishing industry perspective, which ranges from acknowledging the need for regulation in order to maintain the industry in the long run, to outrage at the restrictive nature and subsequent financial harm such regulations cause. In deciding to pursue my graduate degrees, I wanted to contribute to both the industry and the protection of the ocean that sustains it.”

Jiang, a URI Ph.D. candidate in environmental and natural resource economics, will be working at the National Science Foundation’s Biological Oceanography Program, Division of Ocean Sciences.

Jiang is looking forward to rounding out his academic and research accomplishments with experience in how government operates. Jiang, who has a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and a master’s degree in environmental planning and management, is focusing on using economics to promote efficient and effective environmental policy.

He says, “Policymakers, in many cases, don’t incorporate well-grounded economic suggestions in their decision making. One reason may be that economic suggestions fail to take into account the real-world situation for which they are intended.” Jiang hopes that the practical experience he gains as a Knauss Fellow will help him to bring effective and innovative natural resources management ideas to his native China.

The Knauss Fellowship, established in 1979, matches highly qualified graduate students interested in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources with hosts in the federal legislative or executive branches of government.

Rhode Island Sea Grant is located at URI and is part of NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program, which promotes the conservation and sustainable development of marine resources for the public benefit.